Arvin city manager leaving amid budget crisis

Arvin, Calif., city manager Alfonso Noyola is seen in a KBAK/KBFX photo.

Amid a budget crisis that has prompted deep cuts and layoffs, Arvin's city manager is on his way out.

An Eyewitness News investigation uncovered Alfonso Noyola is returning to the Las Vegas area, a place where for years he's maintained a home even after becoming Arvin's highest paid employee.

Years of accounting problems that predate Noyola's tenure as city manager contributed to a $1.8 million deficit staff discovered last year during a regular audit.

"We started realizing something just wasn't adding up," Noyola said. "And that led us to look deeper."

Internal emails obtained by Eyewitness News through public record law show a prolonged period of time in 2017 in which staff struggled to get a handle on how large the deficit was. Staff had moved money around, shoring up short accounts with money from other departments, a process Noyola likened to internal overdraft protection.

"We've put in place internal controls to assist in preventing that moving forward," he said.

But the mess is far from cleaned up. In a move Noyola refers to as applying a Band-Aid, staff yet again shifted money around and cut expenses, laying off two managers. The city will still take a seven-figure deficit into the next fiscal year.

Noyola won't be around to see if and when the city is back in the black. He's just accepted a comparable position in Boulder City, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas.

"Sorry about the timing, obviously. I understand the optics of that," he said. "I didn't create the opening (in Boulder City)."

The new job is about 30 minutes away from the home Noyola owns in Las Vegas.

Public records show that Noyola began spending more time there about six months ago. In June 2017, an addendum was added to his contract with Arvin stipulating that he need only be "remotely available" by phone and email on Fridays, freeing him to spend long weekends in Nevada.

Public records show Noyola's car is registered in Nevada, and he is registered to vote in Clark County, Nevada. He told Eyewitness News that he rents a home in Arvin, where he typically stays four days a week.

His contract with taxpayers says he must be a permanent resident of Arvin, with the understanding that his address could be anywhere within 45 miles of city hall. Being a permanent resident is defined in the contract as living within the boundary more than six months of the year.

Depending on his exact travel schedule and where he spends his vacation time, the amount of calendar days Noyola spends in Las Vegas is likely very close to the number of days he spends in Arvin.

Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola was the only council member to vote against giving Noyola the three-day weekends. Council members Erika Madrigal, Jess Ortiz and Gabriela Martinez all approved the extended weekends. At-the-time Mayor Pro Tem Jazmin Robles was absent for that particular council meeting.

When asked about Noyola's intention to leave the financially burdened city, the mayor sent this written statement:

"Our City Manager, Alfonso Noyola, has served the City of Arvin since 2015, during which times he has made significant contributions to our community. While he has not formally tendered his resignation, he recently informed us he has been offered the City Manager for Boulder City, Nevada, and intends to take the job. We appreciate his service with the City of Arvin, and once the details are ironed and he makes a final decision, we wish him the best with his endeavors wherever he may be.”
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